Tag Archives: Murder

In which the Author publishes his 31st book, ‘Bloody British History’…

Bloody History of Britain coverBloody British History, my 31st book, has just been published. It’s a sanguinary canter through some of the

more gruesome aspects of British history, with an eye to not merely the murderous and macabre, but also to

the strange and, at times, surreal. Delve within the illustrated pages and you will learn of prehistoric cannibals using skulls as drinking cups, discover how to boil a poisoner to death, understand the technique of chemical warfare during medieval sea battles, and learn more about the use of cheese as an instrument of torture than you ever wanted to know.

With a full cast including Ancient Britons, Romans, Barbarians, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Pirates,

Jacobites and invading Frenchmen, Bloody British History relates some of the most famous episodes in the

history of the British Isles from unfamiliar perspectives. The sight of the largest ship in the Spanish Armada

keeling over with blood pouring from its scuppers. The giant Viking at Stamford Bridge finally defeated by a

spear thrust to the testicles from below the bridge he was defending. William the Conqueror turning the North of England into an uninhabited wasteland. The Scots inventing the concentration camp. Roman SEALs

conducting amphibious warfare. Witchcraft in Westminster politics. Not the six wives, but the Six Executions of Henry VIII. And how not to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Featuring walk-on parts from all manner of unpleasant characters from Richard the Lionheart and Bloody

Mary to Jack the Ripper and Hitler’s Gestapo, Bloody British History does what it says on the can.

There will, indeed, be blood.

The book is published by The History Press and is available through all the usual retail channels, including the country’s hard-pressed but indispensable brick-and-mortar bookshops.

In which the Author takes part in the Creative Process Blog Tour…

The Creative Process Blog Tour

My thanks to Hilary McGrath for nominating me for this round of the Creative Process Blog Tour, where writers get to answer four questions and whitter on about their innermost creative processes.

Note: every word below is the absolute unvarnished truth.

Except for the lies.

What am I working on?


I’m sending my completed iconoclastic vampire novel Palefaces out to literary agents. The tagline:

Cops – vampires – vampire cops.

There will, almost certainly, be some blood.


There will, almost certainly, be some rejections.

the vampire

2) CRIME. 

I’m half way through the writing of Sex, Lies and Croissants, a softboiled crime novel set in southwest France,

featuring a handsome but irredeemably grumpy British detective mixed up with porn stars, religious maniacs and

drunk Frenchmen with guns. First in a series, if the gods be kind.

3796019-gun-and-blood-splatter-murder-scene 5875090-fresh-croissants


I’m working through the proofs for The Bloody History of Britain, which will be published by The History Press in September. This will be my 31st non-fiction book. Expect:

Cannibals from the Dawn of Time

Anarchy in the UK (12th century style)

Pirate Monks

The Six Executions of Henry VIII

Plus Norman genocide, Nazis, Zeppelins, Jacobites, and a surfeit of lampreys.

All this and murders, torture, massacres, punishments, castrations and executions galore. You’ve got to laugh,

haven’t you?


4) SEX.

 I’m using allure, coquetry and a packet of powerful pheromones in the hope of attracting agents or publishers to a non-fiction book on some of the stranger but universal aspects of sex and sexual culture.



Notes are being made and ideas corralled for a YA fantasy involving cryptozoology, time travel and sherbert

lemons. There may also be a fantasy/high-tech film screenplay incarcerated in the oubliette.

Book Collage for Site

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My natural tendency when I am writing is to upset the apple cart of expectations.

When writing about vampires, I want to destroy the entire accepted vampiric mythology and create a completely

new take on their origins, behaviour and sexuality.

If I’m setting a crime novel in rural Gascony – beloved by Terry Wogan and other Brits – my hero has to loathe

other expats and everything they stand for.

In The Bloody History of Britain I avoid the clichés of history and tell stories from the shadows: how Scotland

invented the concentration camp, the reason the Wars of the Roses were like a football match, and why King John was marginally better than that narcissistic psychopath Richard the Lionheart.

My ghost books are sceptical about ghosts. My paranormal books interrogate the paranormal rather than just

going ‘Woooh!’ Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it is my pleasure to tamper with accepted ideas and default genre preoccupations. Punk iconoclasm, that’s what we need.

 Zombie-Geoff_MONOThe Guide to Mysterious PerthshirePoltergeist Over Scotland

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote my very first book, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire, because I was living in Perthshire and it was

something I wanted to read – but there was simply nothing like it on the market. I write non-fiction on the weird and the strange because of a longstanding conviction that the world is weirder and stranger than most people think,

and that some of the data gathered may actually lead, one day, to a paradigm change.

And I write fiction because it is a socially acceptable way to kill people.

Zombie workshop the Arches Glasgow 30 Jan 2012 18-61

How does my writing process work?

I don’t actually have any ideas myself. I pay a subscription to an ideas-generating company based in the Cayman

Islands and they send me ten creative suggestions a month.


Who I nominate next…

I now pass the baton to those fine individuals and writers Kirstie Swain and Moore & Reppion. Good luck, chaps.

In which the Author has a bodysnatching review on the Spooky Isles site…

That fine institution the Spooky Isles website has just upped a nice review of my book

Scottish Bodysnatchers: A Gazetteerscribed by Fortean writer Mandy Jane Steel Collins. You can indulge your

eyeballs at the Spooky Isles site here, while the book can be reached here, and I’ve a video trailer here.

Scottish Bodysnatchers came out a couple of years ago so perhaps it’s worth a brief recap. It aims to provide a

comprehensive guide to every physical remnant of the bodysnatching era in Scotland, from mortsafes and

morthouses to watch towers and other protection devices. It tells you where to find these relics (whether in

graveyards, churches or museums), and what to look for. Many of the sites are obscure, hidden, long-forgotten or have not previously been written about. Yes, the fieldwork research was fun…

In addition, there are anecdotes and news stories from the bodysnatching era, some of which may be early

versions of urban legends. Burke and Hare of course make an appearance, but bear in mind that they were serial killers, not bodysnatchers, their murders being driven by greed for the cash being offered for fresh corpses.

Scottish Bodysnatchers - A Gazetteer

The book covers not only the well-trodden bodysnatching paths of Edinburgh and Glasgow, but sites across the

country, from Aberdeenshire and the Highlands to the Scottish Borders, Ayrshire, Perthshire, Fife, Dundee and

Stirling. Given that there really isn’t any similar book out there, a number of readers have written to me describing how useful the book is for those interested in hunting out bodysnatching sites in their area – “well-thumbed” is a

typical comment. “An invaluable reference work” was another.

Happy to be of service, fellow bodysnatching fans. And remember to wash the dirt from your hands before

handling food…

In which the Author is interviewed in the Edinburgh Evening News…




There was a feature on Bloody History of Scotland: Edinburgh in the Edinburgh Evening News on Saturday 13 October. Entitled “‘Edinburgh is a blood-soaked place’: An alternative history of the Capital,” the piece covered topics such as public executions, heads on spikes and the cannibal Earl of Dunlanrig, and also included an interview with the humble author in which I actually manage to sound semi-coherent.


You can see Jen Lavery’s article at:




In which the Author has another book published…


The latter part of October sees the publication of my latest attempt at world literary domination, The Bloody History of Scotland: Edinburgh. The book is a speedy and sanguinary sprint through the city’s dark past, taking in everything from massacres and murders to witchcraft, torture and executions.


Events commence in the Dark Ages with the annihilation of the Goddodin warrior tribe, and continue through medieval wars and sieges onto dastardly deeds surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots, and a veritable rogues’ gallery of assassins, rioters, pirates, hangmen and cannibals. Bodysnatchers, serial killers, poisoners and Zeppelins bring up the rear, and, for light relief, there is also a diversion into Edinburgh’s nineteenth-century brothels and houses of pleasure, with their associated crimes, court cases and general depravity.


  1. “And There Was Slaughter”
  2. A Barricade of Dead Horses!
  3. Tortured to Death over Three Days – For Killing the King!
  4. Murdered at the Sign of the Black Bull!
  5. Slaughter on the Streets!
  6. “Burn Edinburgh to the Ground!”
  7. A Tapestry of Naked Corpses!
  8. Stabbed To Death – In Front of the Queen!
  9. Death of a King: Blown Up and Strangled
  10. Siege!
  11. Death and the Maiden
  12. A Sea Battle – Inside the Harbour
  13. Drowned Alive in the Loch!
  14. Burn the Witch!
  15. Plague
  16. A Concentration Camp – in the middle of Edinburgh
  17. The Dismembered Marquis!
  18. The Wizard of West Bow
  19. The Hangman was a Murderer
  20. He Roasted the Servant on a Spit – and then ate him!
  21. He Fired into the Crowd – and was Lynched by the Mob!
  22. Jacobite Conflicts and the War of the Chamber Pots
  23. Riot!
  24. Piracy and Murder of the High Seas!
  25. Duel!
  26. Fire!
  27. Burke and Hare – Serial Killers!
  28. Poison!
  29. Hanged By The Neck Until Ye Be Dead
  30. The Night of the Zeppelins
  31. Sex and Death


You can find more about the book through Facebook and from the website of the publishers, The History Press. Upcoming media coverage includes features in The Edinburgh Evening News and The Scottish Daily Mail. There’s also a free illustrated talk on the book taking place at the splendid Blackwells Bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh on Tuesday 6 November. The humble author will be waving his arms about and bellowing on about grisly deeds and ghastly anecdotes from 6.30pm, and signing books after the talk as well.


There shall be blood!



In which the author basks in praise from the Ghost Club…

The Ghost Club is Britain’s most venerable supernatural investigation society, having been founded in 1862. In the most recent edition of The Ghost Club Journal the Club’s Treasurer, Lance Railton, wrote a spiffing review of T he Jacobites and the Supernatural.


Here’s a few extracts:

“This book has been a pleasure to read and review – a straightforward, well-researched, well-written, well-illustrated book with basic maps and a comprehensive bibliography. It demands room on the bookshelf of anyone interested in Scotland, its ghosts and its history.


Geoff Holder is an experienced author, with 17 books on the strange, supernatural, Gothic and gruesome under his belt, and it shows. However, I was also impressed by his firm grasp of the history of the Jacobite cause and the sociological, religious, folkloric and cultural dimensions swirling around it.


The book is in three sections – a brisk, clear and balanced overview of the historical context; followed by a longer and more detailed survey of the occult beliefs on both sides; and then a fairly extensive gazetteer of the sites – on both sides of the border – associated with the ghost stories and other alleged phenomena of the Jacobite risings from 1689 to 1745.


…This was a delight to read.”


The full review can be seen here